This is the continuation of a transcribed letter/email I sent to my Girlfriend while stuck in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
“Here’s Your Sign(s)”
30 July 0426hrs: Rally Point
Waiting on the bus and the Gomer to take us to the Badging Office. This time of day Afghanistan is pleasant—not hot—cool in fact. I tossed and turned all night and did not sleep well at all. I kept thinking about Dubai, well specifically about us in Dubai.
There was no Rockets’ Red Glare last night. So that cannot be used as excuse today for red eyes and sleepy Lance, not that I will be required to provide any, as no one gives two shits about anyone else here.
Waitin’ On The Bus
The Briefing was Brief:
“This here’s the van gonna take you. Leaves at zero five hunnert, an’ it’ll leave without ch’all, so doan wander off.”
0523hrs: CAC Badging Office
We’re told to expect to be here all day. Perfect! (At Dwyer last time I had to get a new CAC, I was in and out in thirty minutes max. Shit! But THEY closed that Badging office. Why??)
0630hrs: CAC Badging Office
No sooner than four hours from now…grrrr. Didn’t bring my sunglasses; didn’t bring any snack, “No phone, no pool, no pets; I ain’t got no cigarettes…” This day is gonna suck.
0758hrs: Boardwalk, KAF
Yes, you read that right:
I’m sitting at a table drinking a Mocha Frappe purchased from Green Beans Coffee (Think Starbucks) Come to find out, the world famous KAF Boardwalk lies less than one hundred meters from the CAC Badging Office.
Praise The Great White Cat of the River Nile! (Again)
Under The Boardwalk
The boardwalk embraces a soccer field but and there appears to also be a hockey court of some kind as well. (No Ice. Duh!)
On the Boardwalk itself are myriad food joints: KFC, Fridays (no booze), Pizza, Juice Bar, Kebab Joint, Convenience Store (called Downtime–If they’re sellin’ ‘downtime‘, I’m buyin’), Trinket Shops, ATT Phone Center, Souvenir Joint, Afghan Bank, Nathan’s Frankfurters, and God knows what else.
I’d heard of this place, but didn’t know it was of this magnitude.
Having a lot of time to kill, I think this will be the place to murder it.
Damn! That mocha thingy was good. I now have a brain freeze.
This is only the third time I have ever had a Frappe. Me! The World Traveler! Ha! Now I’m spoiled. ‘Ruint’ as we say in Texas.
To top that off (my discovery of Le Boardwalk), I ran into my old Filipino Electrician from Iraq days on my way over here. File that in ‘it’s a small world after all’ department.
His name is Hernani and he was, without doubt, my best employee and also a very good friend. I have missed him and it was wonderful to see him again after almost three and a half years.
He has been here at KAF for three years now he tells me. Poor guy has been working all over the Middle East for at least twelve years, sending all his money back to the Philippines to support his wife and family.
Now here is an honorable man. I truly admire and respect him.
Hernani aka “Nani”
One of the Most Honorable Men I have ever been privileged to know
0907hrs: Boardwalk, KAF
I snuck a couple of photos—not sure on KAF about photography—best to be cautious. I suppose I could just ask, but where would be the fun in that?
Since I was starving to death, I purchased a toasted bagel with cream cheese from a joint called YO Time. The ‘O’ is a clock. Clever.
The bagel was mediocre, the cream cheese probably made from powder, but it hit my spot and I feel much better. The airfield lies in the direction I’m facing and I’ve been observing various aircraft come and go. So far about half a dozen helos, a couple of Predator Drones, couple of cargo planes, and I swear, I think I saw Air France landing.
There is a large white blimp suspended overhead. We had these in Iraq. They serve as the Eye in the Sky. ‘Gomer, watch yer ass.’
I forgot to mention that the soccer/hockey field has a jogging track circling it. I may have to try it out for a walk-about, but it is already getting hot and I really don’t want to look like I just ran in front of a fire hose… (I tend to perspire…uh, no… Sweat. A lot, when I’m working out. But that’s OK. People who don’t sweat in the desert die of heat stroke) before I get my ID photo taken.
0959hrs: CAC Badging Office
Decided better return here to see how far I’ve moved up the list: Twelve in front of me now. Looks like they have been knocking out about four per hour. “Warp Speed Mister Zulu!”
Needed more caffeine—wanted another one of those orgasmic frappes, but my self-discipline kicked in—Diet Coke—Ah! Tasty.
Before I left the badging office, I inquired to the Soldierette behind the counter, “If I have ten in front of me do I have at least an hour?”
She laughed. “Yes Sir. At Least.”
The Boardwalk has really come to life in the past hour. Quite a cosmopolitan crowd here: U.S. Mil, civilians of every stripe, NATO forces, Afghani shop keepers, TCN’s and… Lance. (I deserve my own category—I have worked hard to be certifiable.) It’s disappointing that there are no hockey or football (See, I didn’t say ‘soccer’ this time in deference to my audience) matches going on. Probably that sort of activity happens only at night.
In The Rain.
When it’s cool.
I discovered this gem which was filmed during the same time I was in Afghanistan.
“I Find TGI Fridays In Afghanistan – Kandahar Boardwalk Tour” – Mike Swick
Mega Thanks to You Tuber OfficialSwick for the share
Anyway folks are walkin’ around the B’Walk stopping here, stoppin’ there, buyin’ food, eatin’ same, shootin’ the shit, cokin’ an’ smokin’ and if I didn’t know better, I’d think I was in Atlantic City.
But I know better…
GOD BLESS THE USO AND THEIR SHOWS!
We do have lots of beach here, just no water. And they do sell beer. Non-alcoholic beer. Why even bother? Might as well drink camel piss. Probably could get that too (for medicinal purposes) now that I think on it.
1112hrs: CAC Badging Office
Only three in front of me. I can see the light. Read an article in Stars & Stripes about the casualties of contractors during the rebuilding efforts in Iraq. Finally someone is giving credit to those who died doing this work!
Personally, I lost two friends there in 2007. Not best friends, but friends—killed by a roadside bomb. We were in Anbar Province at the time.
The story cited 719 killed, but the number is probably over one thousand: the USG folks estimate… according to the story. I know the number is much higher even than that.
1151hrs: CAC Badging Office: NEXT
Once saw a buxom brunette wearing a T-Shirt which read, “You can’t be the First, but you can be Next.” (Okay. I stole that line from Larry McMurtry… Please don’t tell him.)
Well, I’m next in line for the CAC’ing Experience. Feels like Christmas Eve.
1242hrs: TGI Fridays
Yep. I’m sitting in a Fridays in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Believe this shit?
Iraq was never like this!
This is almost the Real Deal.
Just need a frosty pint of my favorite Irish Stout to make it so much more Real…
Needless to say I am now the proud owner of a brand new Common Access Card, or CAC. This one is good until 31 July 2013. I am sure you are dying to know what I ordered at Fridays.
I must be boring. Well, I am, after all, in training and must treat my body as a temple. I was staring around at the décor here and I must have looked like an idiot because a Gomer wait-person came over and asked if I needed any help.
“No thank you,” I said. “Just never been to the Big City before.” He left, probably certain now that I am an idiot.
After I eat, I must try to find my way back to South Park. This should prove interesting.